Sunday, December 30, 2012

Detroit 1-8-7

A few years ago, when I first heard about a cop drama being shot in Detroit, I was skeptical. There's certainly enough crime to go around in that city, but the police force is a lot more strapped for cash than departments in, say, New York, Miami, Las Vegas, or really anywhere I can think of outside of my home state. If the show succeeded, it would bring in a lot of much needed cash. The odds, though, seemed a bit against it. Especially after the reaction of a former Detroit police officer himself was revealed the day after the premiere. He wasn't negative, but he was certainly amused. The cars were too new, too nice, and I think he mentioned Detroit losing its forensics lab, considerably delaying many cases. (I wish I could find this and link it, but it has long since been buried by the internet.)

Detroit 1-8-7, whose title doesn't even make sense considering 1-8-7 is California penal code, not Michigan, which, contrary to LA's self-absorbed beliefs, is not familiar to the majority of Americans, was predictably canceled in its first season. I forgot about it - I'm sure a lot of people did - then I noticed it while browsing the DVD shelves at the Ann Arbor library and thought, "Why not?" 

As has been popularly noted, the first episode is pretty awful. The original concept was as a mocumentary, and it shows. They do pack in a lot of Detroityness. For example, a pair of cops eat lunch and reminisce at American Coney Island, which I have visited myself (and it was delicious). No mention of Lafayette Coney Island next door, however. What an oversight! (Tongue in cheek.) One of the 

Another oversight is the use of the word "soda." It's true that I do know some local Michiganders who naturally use the word soda. Hearing it in the show did make me giggle just a little, though. "Pop" is most definitely the king out here, and if they were really trying to be so firm about local color, they would have said pop. This actually became a bit of a running gag with a few future mentions of pop versus soda, including this zinger "they don't say soda here, they say pop... everyone knows that."

The dialogue in the show is actually pretty good and the characters sound natural, not melodramatic as in other cop shows, the main reason I don't really watch them. (My favorite police drama is Castle.) The most serious character is Detective Louis Fitch played by Michael Imperioli, whose beautiful brown eyes are very much sigh-worthy. His relationship with his new partner Detective Damon Washington is... cute. At first, in classic fashion, he starts off gruff and antagonistic. "Why must I be saddled with this green, overenthusiastic newb? I am a loner, man! You don't understand captain!" (My paraphrasing.) Thankfully, it quickly changes after Washington gets shot at the end of the first episode, a rather predictable outcome considering throughout the episode Washington has been expecting the birth of his baby, receiving numerous calls from his anxious wife. 
Which brings up another recurring gag: Washington's wife constantly calling him on his cellphone while he is in the midst of working a case. Fitch rides him constantly about it, even taking to calling him on his cell phone  to discuss their case when they are standing right next to each other. 

Other pairings include Det. Ariana Sanchez and Det. John Stone, newly transferred from narcotics, Sgt. Jesse Longford, who often spouts off Italian despite not being Italian (his wife was), and Det. Vikram Mahajan. The banter of the latter two is pretty enjoyable and generally light-hearted. Actually, they remind me a bit of detectives Esposito and Ryan from Castle. Aisha Hinds makes a great head of homicide in the form of Lt. Maureen Mason. 

Another main character, perhaps overlooked, is the city of Detroit itself. It's admittedly a thrill to see all of these places that I've been to and driven by flash across my television screen. And the characters talk about Woodward and Ferndale, and all kinds of places and things that I talk about, too. It makes them believable and shows that the creators of the show really did try, which I appreciate. 

It's the characters that make a show for me, and these characters are solid and definitely do not paint Detroit police officers in a bad light. They are portrayed as noble in a lot of ways. It may only be one season of a short-lived show, but it's enjoyable and might have deserved more than it got. Also, the musical soundtrack is pretty gold.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eight Days A Week

Today marked 7 days in a row of working. I work again tomorrow, which means I will have worked 8 days in a row, a feat I have not managed in many months. Once, back in 2006, I believe, I worked every single day during the month of December minus 2 days. I spent the 3rd of the month moving in the aftermath of an ice storm, and Christmas day, when all 3 of my places of employment were closed. I remember feeling like a total zombie and concluding that I could never do such a thing ever again.

Much to my surprise, this week turned out to be not entirely exhausting. Only once did I work both jobs in the same day. The rest of the time was one job at a time with no more than 6 hours at a stretch. I think I did very well! And I don't feel like killing anyone. (Of course, there is still tomorrow...)

Today, since I only worked 2 hours, I was able to have enough free time to pick up some wine for Christmas at my mother's plus a last minute gift, then come home, relax, eat a microwavable burrito that was really more like beef stew wrapped in a tortilla than a burrito (still tasty), and take my roommate Kimmy to the airport. She is off to visit her friends and family in California through the new year. Bon voyage, Kimmy! Your kitty Sawyer already misses you. He pooped on the floor in protest.

I was later joined at home by my other roommate Bri and her boyfriend. We sat and chatted while they dined on Thai food and awaited my own boyfriend's arrival. Then the four of us gathered around the TV and Greg figured out how to re-hook up my VCR so we could watch and heckle A Muppet Family Christmas, which I don't remember ever watching, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Yes, the movie from 1964. Santa was such a dick! And I think we determined that Hermey might have had his gender reassigned at birth, or was possibly a drag king. Good times.

Trivia: Billie Mae Richards, the actress who voiced Rudolph continued acting through 2004 when she appeared in a Care Bears short video. She passed away in 2010.

Well, sine this is the night before Christmas Eve, I will bid everyone good night, good luck, and a very happy Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What Am I Listening To?: New Orleans Christmas

It does exist.
I enjoy collecting atypical, uncommon music, such as my collection of Disney songs in non-English languages - Hercules in French, Mulan in Chinese, the Little Mermaid in Japanese, etc - and one of the Sailor Moon Christmas albums to name a few. 

Thus, I have never been one for terribly typical holiday music either. I'm not going to say that the artists on Putumayo Presents: New Orleans Christmas are obscure or unknown because my boyfriend Greg recognized about half of them off the top of his head. (He went to college in New Orleans and still refers to the city as home.)

Jazzier than the Jazz Christmas CD.
What is different about this collection of holiday tunes is their distinctly New Orleans flare. Papa Don Vappie's New Orleans Jazz Band's rendition of "Please Come Home For Christmas" is swingin' and booty shakin', not the moody downer that I tend to think of it as. ''Zat You, Santa Claus?" features the unique and classy voice of Ingrid Lucia, whom I will be looking into further as a result of her catchy addition to this album.

I bought this CD from Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room. There was another CD called A Jazz & Blues Christmas also produced by Putumayo, but that CD was not nearly as jazzy as the New Orleans CD. (It was, however, pretty bluesy, and I still liked it, I just wasn't moved to purchase it.)

Other tracks are "Christmas in New Orleans" by James Andrews, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Ellis Marsalis, "Santa's Second Line" by New Birth Brass Band, and "Holiday Time in New Orleans" by the Dukes of Dixieland, which offers the listener a sort of tour of New Orleans during the holiday season. (Side note: I refuse to refer to New Orleans as "the Big Easy" since that was the nickname of a girl I dated in college.)

If you're looking for some new, lively holiday music this year that isn't too far out there, check this CD out. My roommate Kimmy and I listened to it whole she made beignets for our Roommate Christmas celebration, really setting the right tone. There was plenty of booty waggling, I promise you. I can't wait to play it for my mother and brother who both appreciate some good jazzy tunes.

I hope everyone had a happy Hanukkah and, in case I don't have much chance to write next week, a merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Craft Fairs Around Ann Arbor

There are many street, art, and craft fairs throughout the Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro areas all through the spring and summer, such as the DIY Street Fair I attended in Ferndale in Septembe, and the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair that I missed this year, but explored last year. During the month of December, however, many craft fairs pop up just in time to buy presents for the winter holidays. 

This past Saturday was host to a number of craft fairs. I had intended to go to DIYpsi, but since I worked at 2pm downtown, I elected to check out Tiny Expo at 220 Felch Street, just a few blocks north of Crazy Wisdom. 

One of the locations hosting Tiny Expo was Metal, a "design and fabrication studio." It was fun to wander around the cramped, industrial complex, and there were some really cool T-shirts and jewelry that I would have been more interested in if I'd had more money. This isn't to say items were overpriced, I am just poor, and I've already spent a lot of money on presents this month. 

I recognized a few vendors from the Ferndale DIY Street Fair, such as the guy selling T-shirts of various creatures being kidnapped by aliens. I would love the pirates being kidnapped by aliens T-shirt, but I just don't have the money. My roommate Kimmy particularly enjoyed Bigfoot being kidnapped by aliens. 

The other shop playing host to Tiny Expo was Pot & Box, a container gardening store. I don't know about Bri, but Kimmy and I were quite delighted by the discovery of Pot & Box. I was thinking that perhaps if I made little gardens in clear glass containers, the cats would be discouraged from destroying them. Or they would go all Godzilla on them. An experiment that must wait until I have more disposable income, I think. 

A friend of mine recently participated in a craft fair out in Kalamazoo, and this has bolstered my hope to have a table myself one day. I guess that means I need to get cracking this winter and add more to my box of crafts. So far it is filled with reusable coffee sleeves. I've succeeded in making two kinds of hats and some fingerless gloves, so I thought I would make sets of matching gloves, hats, and scarves. 

Keep calm and craft on!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Jumpstarting the Holidays in Metro Detroit

I guess the day after Thanksgiving is the unofficial start to the Chrismukkah season, though I did have a woman rather cross with me that we hadn't put out menorahs yet at Crazy Wisdom on November 1st. (If you spot the unintended pun, you're a bad person.) I realize Hanukkah starts on December 8th this year, but come on. 

Anyway, my roommates and I did not wait until it was December to put up our tree and decorate it. Kimmy and I had a lot of fun shopping for new ornaments at the World Market in Portage/Kalamazoo while we were visiting my mother. I bought a little miniature tea set ornament and, best of all, a purple dragon!! The store had two, so I bought them both and gave one to my brother and his family. 

This past Wednesday, I met up with my boyfriend Greg at his house in Dearborn Heights, and we drove through the impressive light display that is set up along Hines Drive every year called the Wayne County Lightfest. You pay $5 per vehicle to get in, and the drive is just shy of 5 miles long. Mostly the displays are Christmas themed, but there are also scenes for Hanukkah and Kwana, as well as many, many nondenominational Santa Claus and toy light-up scenes. If you are in the Detroit area and enjoy holiday light displays, you cannot miss this one.

If you live around Ann Arbor, you may already know about this one, but I've lived here for a few years now, and it was new to me. I'm talking about Midnight Madness, which takes place on the Friday after Black Friday as a way to promote local holiday shopping. Restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor offer drinks specials or half off appetizers, etc, while the shops run sales and have special events like music or caroling, sometimes offering special treats, and participants stay open until midnight. In Kerrytown, there was a wine tasting. 

Crazy Wisdom usually stays open until 11pm on Fridays anyway, so the extra hour wasn't too much of a stretch for me, and I had two helpers that night instead of one. And am I ever glad I did! It isn't called Midnight Madness for nothing. We had a near nonstop line from when I got there at 7pm until just after 11pm. It was nuts! The store was a mess, and there was nothing I could to clean it up because I was shackled to the register. It broke my hear to see so many empty easels and the books on the tables in shambles. *sob sob* But the ridiculously high sales made up for it. To say simply that Midnight Madness was a success for us wee little local shops is a gross understatement. 

Midnight Madness really is a great time. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood and elated to get some great deals. Some people didn't know there was anything special going on and were enticed to "go back in," as one man put it, to buy more things. People around Ann Arbor should check it out. I think it's a better time than Black Friday at any rate. 

It turns out that Kerrytown does a lot for the December holidays. The same night as Midnight Madness they host KindleFest, which includes a children's lantern parade, as well as a visit from St. Nicholas and Krampus. This Friday the 7th, from 4pm to 9pm, is the Kerrytown Holiday Greens and Gift Market with community-wide caroling and fires for roasting marshmallows and keeping warm. (Though December has been unseasonably warm so far for Michigan. Not that Michigan is ever really seasonable. We're a very nonconformist state.) 

If you are looking for more things to do around Detroit to brighten your Christmas or Hanukkah or Solstice or what-have-you, there is also Christmas at the Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Flint, and, of course, Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village. I was very sorry to have missed Noel Night this year. (Read about Noel Night on the Huffington Post.) Here is a rundown of  Noel Night 2011, including some pictures. 

Well, that is what I have been up to this past week. I hope I've given some of you some fun ideas for the approaching holidays, and if you missed out on some events, like Midnight Madness and Noel Night, I hope you mark them on your calendars for next year. Winter greetings, everyone!